On Saturday morning, Kogalymavia Flight 9268 bound for St. Petersburg, Russia, crashed over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. The plane crash resulted in the deaths of all 224 of the plane's passengers. Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched an investigation of the flight, but for the moment, there is limited information available about KGL-9268. About 23 minutes after the flight departed from popular coastal tourist region Sharm el-Sheikh, the plane lost contact and crashed 60 miles south of Arish, where an emergency landing was allegedly being attempted. According to The Guardian, the airline stated on Saturday that there were “no grounds” to blame the incident on human error, but at the moment, little is known about the pilot of KGL flight 9268, other than that the plane's captain has been identified as Valery Nemov, who had 12,000 hours of flying experience, including 3,860 hours in A321 planes like the A321-200 aircraft he had been flying.
Ayman al-Muqadem of Egypt's Aviation Incidents Committee claimed before the plane stopped communicating with air traffic controllers, the pilot radioed in that the plane was having technical problems, and stated his intent to land at the nearest airport, according to ABC. In an interview with Russian news station NTV, Natalya Trukhacheva, the wife of Nemov's co-pilot Sergei Trukachev, claimed that her husband had complained about the plane's condition in a phone call with their daughter prior to the flight. "He complained before the flight that the technical condition of the aircraft left much to be desired," Natalya stated.
Despite these allusions to technical errors potentially resulting in KGL-9268's fate, the cause of the plane crash remains under heavy investigation. The AP reports that a statement on the Moscow-based Metrojet website says the A321 did receive factory maintenance in 2014. And, prior to taking off, the plane successfully passed technical checks, according to Adel Mahgoub, chairman of the state company responsible for running Egypt's civilian airports. The Russian Investigative Committee announced that it would conduct tests on fuel samples retrieved from the aircraft at its last fuel uplift while in Samara, but it has yet to release any findings.
Nemov's solid experience as a pilot and initial reports about the safety of the aircraft certainly raise questions about what exactly went wrong on Kogalymavia Flight 9268. Different reports and statements all seem to indicate that the plane's crash was relatively sudden, after its pilot stated he would attempt an emergency landing. According to CNN, Hossam Kamel, Egypt's civil aviation minister, stated, "There was nothing abnormal before the plane crash. It suddenly disappeared from the radar."
According to The Guardian, Egyptian authorities have stressed that terrorism does not seem to be the cause of the crash, but cannot yet confirm that the crash was a result of technical failure. Still, after ISIS claimed responsibility for the plane crash via Twitter on Saturday, officials from both Egypt and Russia have proceeded to reject these claims.